Hundreds flock to mingle with literary and film greats at Voewood Festival, High Kelling, near Holt

Bank holiday thunderstorms failed to dampen the spirits of book-lovers visiting north Norfolk's prestigious annual Voewood Literary Festival today.

Billed as the 'arts garden party of the year', the festival was held for the first time last year at Voewood House, High Kelling.

This year's event kicked off yesterday with a programme featuring talks by writers including Ross Raisin, Roy Wilkinson and Orange Prize founder Kate Mosse.

Today's line-up ranged from much-loved memoirist Diana Athill and photography legend Martin Parr, to Booker Prize-winning author DBC Pierre and Academy Award nominated film director Stephen Frears, whose credits include My Beautiful Launderette, Dangerous Liaisons and The Queen.

London literary agent Clare Conville, who organised the festival with Voewood owner and rare-book dealer Simon Finch and Patrick Keogh, of Faber and Faber, said more than 500 people had come through the gates today.

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'We are expecting another 500 this evening,' she added. 'We are thrilled as we had 1,200 all told last year - we are well over that already, even with two days to go.'

Author DBC Pierre, who became the first writer to receive both the Booker prize and the Whitbread prize for his 2003 novel Vernon God Little, appeared at the inaugural festival.

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'This is my second time here and it genuinely has the feeling of an intimate house party; it is perfectly conceived and catered and the setting is beautiful,' he said.

Still to come tomorrow and on Monday are appearances by Angel of the North sculptor Antony Gormley and well-known writer and TV personality Giles Coren, with music from '80s icon Billy Bragg and former Sex Pistol Glen Matlock.

Howard Marks, who was booked to appear today, will now be performing tomorrow.

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